The Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council has joined the call to ban fracking in the Yukon.
The group represents 70 aboriginal groups from the Yukon and Alaska, and is concerned with protecting the Yukon River watershed.
“Water is pretty essential to our being, and there just seems to be no consideration into looking after and protecting it for future generations,” said Carl Sidney, chief of the Teslin Tlingit Council and co-chair of the watershed council.
“No one pays attention until they damage it. Just like anything, like slippery highways, no one pays attention until there’s a major accident, and then everybody runs over and puts gravel on it.”
The council passed a resolution supporting the ban of hydraulic fracturing in Yukon and Alaska until it can be proven safe to the satisfaction of the aboriginal people.
Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a controversial method of extracting natural gas that involves pumping pressurized water, sand and chemicals deep underground.
The process uses a huge amount of water compared with other methods of oil and gas production.
Sidney said he has a hard time imagining a scenario where the council would change its mind and allow the practice.
“I can’t really see anything that they could put in place for us to allow it. The bottom line is, it poisons the water. I don’t care how you look at it. They say, ‘Oh, it all can be contained.’ Just like the pipeline. ‘It all can be contained.’ But what if it breaks? Then what? It’s like trying to put toothpaste back in the tube. How the heck do you put it back in without causing a big mess?”
The Council of Yukon First Nations has come out in opposition to fracking, as have a number of First Nations not represented by the council.
Sidney said that resources should be directed instead to educating young people so that they one day might come up with innovative ways to extract and use resources.
“The bottom line is, ‘slow down.’ The gas isn’t going anywhere, the minerals aren’t going anywhere. Let’s take our time and educate the younger generation into being rocket scientists.”